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Andy Sonnanstine Gets The Start As Rays Face First-Place Indians

I don't know which is more shocking: that the Rays have rebounded from their 1-8 start and are now 6 games above .500, or that the Cleveland Indians currently have the best record in the American League. A month ago, I certainly wouldn't have predicted either of those things to be true come the beginning of May, but here we are: the Rays are coming to Cleveland for the first series of the year between the two clubs, and both teams are well above .500. As much as advanced statistics can tell us so much about players and teams, baseball will always be full of surprises.

In today's game between the Rays and Indians, Andy Sonnanstine (2.19 ERA, 3.99 FIP) will be facing off against Josh Tomlin (2.43 ERA, 4.70 FIP). Sonnanstine has spent the entire year so far as the Rays' long reliever in the bullpen, but is getting a spot start as the Rays are still cobbling things together in the wake of Jeff Niemann's injury. It appears that instead of calling up one of their young arms in Triple-A for a few starts (like Alex Cobb), the Rays would prefer those pitchers to continue getting in time in the minors, considering that most of them are new to the Triple-A level. Sonnanstine isn't a dominant pitcher and likely won't blow the Indians away, but he's a solid innings eater and should provide the Rays with a good enough start to keep them in the game.

Josh Tomlin has seen time with the Indians as their number five starter, and he's done well so far this year. While his ERA is unsustinably low (thanks to a .157 BABIP and 90% strand rate), Tomlin does have impeccably good control and has only walked 1.7 batters per nine so far this season. As he's 26 years old, Tomlin has limited upside, but he's a decent back of the rotation starter if nothing else. He's a soft tosser, averaging 87 MPH with his fastball, so I'm somewhat intrigued to see which starter has more success today: Sonny or Tomlin.

Today's game starts at 7:05 PM. For more coverage of the Tampa Bay Rays, see SB Nation's blog DRaysBay.

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.